Not Yet Crossing

Last Sunday I was jogging my slowish move-the-chi jaunt through my neighborhood when up ahead I noticed a little boy on the other side of the street, running with all his might down his driveway, and then, with just as much force and momentum, slamming on his sneaker-footed breaks and lurching to a stop at the precise line where his driveway became the blacktop of the street.

The boy’s trajectory caused him to sway out over his feet and then snap back.  As I drew closer he ran back up the drive, turned around and bolted back down… stopping with the same Roadrunner deft, the only thing missing was a cartoon “boing.”  He was maybe five or six, blonde, and muttering to his stopped cold feet, “Don’t go in the street. Don’t run in the street.”

The sun fell softly through the greening trees and as I passed, the boy was trotting back up the drive to try again, my neighborhood blurring and blending with everything from the street where I grew up to Grover’s Corner where Emily could just as well have been standing there, unseen, wistfully watching the boy practice staying alive.

*

I ran away from home when I was about that boy’s age.  But I was forbidden to cross the street, and so I could only circumnavigate my own block, eventually sitting like Ferdinand under a leafy tree (although it was Dutch Elm and not cork), eating the little lunch I had taken for my journey of great crossing into unknown freedom from parental tyranny.  I was not yet crossing.

When I was nine, I found myself trapped under a slimy dock in a lake in the woods of Wisconsin.  I could see the sun slanting through the slatted wood, but there was no hope of air in the sloshing wet.  It was terrifying, caged by elements that were my master.  Eventually I made it out, but carried the fear of drowning powerfully with me into my life.  I was not yet crossing.

I would submerge myself into the tub and hold my breath:  one minute, two minutes… nearly three.  I imagined myself the reincarnation of Houdini.  And later, when I lived in New York, I swam most days in NYU’s pool, continually going into the water until it no longer held the living memory of nearly drowning… it became a true memory, a conscious memory.  Lap after lap I thought I was crossing, but I was not yet crossing.

The I Ching, a treasure and a wisdom text, can be understood as a primer on time—on sixty-four variations on time that emerge into being through the gates of Creative and Receptive, materializing out of the unfathomable and timeless.  The I Ching’s final snapshots of time as we, in our lives, experience it are:  already crossing, and not yet crossing.  Transcendent harmony is to be found in already crossing, while not yet crossing circles back into the beginning again.  But really they are all contemporaneous; we are all contemporaneous, even across all our articulated moments.

My oldest son is starting to think about colleges, but he is not yet crossing.  We go to college, we work, we love, we parent, we launch, lose and die.  We cross this and we cross that, but we are not really crossing, not yet.

In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the young Buddha crosses back and forth on the ferry.  Even he is not yet crossing.  Later he sits beside the river next to the ferry boat guy, hearing the river both laughing and crying.  He wakes up alone.  Now he is the ferry boat guy.  Now, finally, he is already crossing.

If we, together, can hear the river laughing and crying, if we dare to love in the here and now, in the conscious face of lovely impermanence… perhaps we too may be already crossing, or at least, to borrow from Wallace Stegner, we may, by virtue our very connections, be already crossing to safety.

Namaste, BD

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14 Responses to “Not Yet Crossing”

  1. rebecca @ altared spaces Says:

    How timely is your post. It is a time of great transition for me. My daughter is crossing. We are visiting colleges and I’m keenly aware that she will, very soon, leave my home.

    I will change. I am changing. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that this choice of which college to choose is hers. Not mine. “Back off,” was the subtext unspoken. This is my change. I am backing away. I’ve known for some time that she no longer needs me and I’ve been telling her that. The words feel different when they begin with her lips.

    But I like this journey. Even as I cry and it rips me apart. I like how I am remade a woman with a grown daughter. I like rediscovering parts of an independent voice inside me. I like seeing who I am without worrying about her first. I am confident I need not speak for her. She speaks for herself. She has crossed over, and in that, I am crossing something as well. This is fascinating for me. All this watching to do as I live my life and watch as well.

    Thank you for the observations. Love the bicycle image and the packed lunch to carry around the block.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      So much flux… and yet we end up playing every role, making every crossing, eventually, even that of crossing from nurturing and protecting into simply understanding… discovering this to be the essence of love, that love that melts us into the river itself. Namaste

  2. Laura Says:

    So so true. We think we’ve walked across the street and paddled across the river already, only to find new crossings that await us. We’re never really arrived but by looking back we can understand the journey.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Maybe it’s in journeying together that we reach the non-destination of the process spiraling ever onward past that same gate but with a different vibe. Either way, Laura, here’s to enjoying the crossing and the not yet crossing.

  3. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    This was beautiful! I’m certainly stuck in the middle of a lot of things, and I’m hoping to cross, but I find I’m impatient and I think I sabotage myself.

    Love the little boy–what a sweet little dude, obeying the rules. 🙂

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Hi KW, Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right (none other than the Mercurial Trickster who always has us just where she wants us)… here we are: stuck in the middle with each other. It’s wanting to be “stuck,” (or at least placed) wherever we happen to be, that liberates us through the radical embrace of what is—the love that sets us free through relinquishing control and desire (i.e. to get anywhere other than we are) that allows this very connection that we have. More and more I see that our own deepest nature is a Self-organizing principle. We are the little dude obeying the rules of our learned “reality,” we are the little girl standing alone on that cold hill on a winter’s day. Namaste

  4. rudrip Says:

    Gorgeous words. And lovely metaphor. I am hoping to cross too, emotionally and intellectually. I believe everyday crossings prepare us for our personal epiphanies.

  5. Katrina Kenison Says:

    Bruce, this is one of my favorite pieces of yours. I keep hoping that I still have a long way to go until I finally cross, but with each passing day I feel myself in the process of crossing — sometimes joyously, but often with an almost heartbreaking sense of not ever being able to do justice to the moment, the life, the beauty of the journey.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Hi Katrina, Thanks for your kind words. As we ourselves cross paths, resonating to the luminous as well as the botched moments, perhaps the connection itself is a sort of already crossing. Whatever way it truly is, I certainly send you All Good Wishes

  6. Pamela Says:

    Bruce,

    This is amazing. My favorite post ever (and that is saying a lot as I love and learn from each of your posts). I don’t understand this post intellectually and I stopped trying. Quite simply, your words “broke through.” “Already crossing” has such dignity to it. It reminds me of Sri Pattabi Jois: “Practice, practice, practice, and all is coming.”

    Much love,
    Pamela

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      These words touch me, and I thank you. “All is coming,” and then, suddenly, all is here… and the love we ultimately are is already crossing. Namaste is also already crossing (but it’s the light in us that recognizes the light in the other, and not the intellect, not the animal although it may be masked and blocking our path and teach us many things, not the ego… lovely as all those are)

  7. Meagan Says:

    I chose to reread this post…something I rarely do. This was the light for me, “If we, together, can hear the river laughing and crying, if we dare to love in the here and now in the conscious face of lovely impermanence.” We all stand at the end of that driveway, afraid to be already crossing. Letting go of fear, and recognizing life’s impermanence, yet loving (and living) in the here and now…that is the point. Impermanence IS lovely, and I needed to hear that today. That, and an opening that I don’t have to go through crossings alone.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Thank you, Meagan, for these lovely words—they are truly right on time. Perhaps it is precisely because we are connected that we are already crossing, relating becoming the toll, the road and the destination. All Good Crossings

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